Personality Psychology

Personality psychology is a branch of psychology that studies personality and individual differences. Its areas of focus include:

  • Constructing a coherent picture of the individual and his or her major psychological processes
  • Investigating individual differences—how people are unique
  • Investigating human nature—how people are alike

"Personality" can be defined as a dynamic and organized set of characteristics possessed by a person that uniquely influences his or her cognitions, emotions,interpersonal orientations motivations, and behaviors in various situations. The word "personality" originates from the Latin persona, which means mask. Significantly, in the theatre of the ancient Latin-speaking world, the mask was not used as a plot device to disguise the identity of a character, but rather was a convention employed to represent or typify that character. Personality may also refer to the patterns of thoughts, feelings, social adjustments, and behaviors consistently exhibited by an individual over time that strongly influence our expectations, self-perceptions, values and attitudes, predicts our reactions to people, problems and stress. In a phrase, personality is not just who we are, Gordon Allport (1937) described two major ways to study personality: the nomothetic and the idiographic. Nomothetic psychology seeks general laws that can be applied to many different people, such as the principle of self-actualization, or the trait of extraversion. Idiographic psychology is an attempt to understand the unique aspects of a particular individual.

The study of personality has a broad and varied history in psychology, with an abundance of theoretical traditions. The major theories include dispositional (trait) perspective, psychodynamic, humanistic, biological, behaviorist and social learning perspective. There is no consensus on the definition of "personality" in psychology. Most researchers and psychologists do not explicitly identify themselves with a certain perspective and often take an eclectic approach. Some research is empirically driven such as dimensional models based on multivariate statistics such as factor analysis, whereas other research emphasizes theory development such as psychodynamics. There is also a substantial emphasis on the applied field of personality testing. In psychological education and training, the study of the nature of personality and its psychological development is usually reviewed as a prerequisite to courses in abnormal or clinical psychology.

Read more about Personality Psychology:  Philosophical Assumptions, Personality Theories, Personality Tests, Personality and Inner Experience

Famous quotes containing the words personality and/or psychology:

    The great pines stand at a considerable distance from each other. Each tree grows alone, murmurs alone, thinks alone. They do not intrude upon each other. The Navajos are not much in the habit of giving or of asking help. Their language is not a communicative one, and they never attempt an interchange of personality in speech. Over their forests there is the same inexorable reserve. Each tree has its exalted power to bear.
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    Idleness is the beginning of all psychology. What? Could it be that psychology is—a vice?
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